Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Invention of Lying (Movie) - A Thinly-Veiled, Rhetorical Attack Against Monotheism


"Gervais, who co-wrote and co-directed with Matthew Robinson, launches an all-out, sneering assault on the foundations of religious faith such as has seldom if ever been seen in a mainstream film, despicably belittling core Judeo-Christian beliefs. Not only Catholics but believers of every stripe and, indeed, people of good will generally will be well-advised to shun this calculated cinematic insult."

Read the full review.

1 comment:

Don Paco said...

So the basic premise is that the movie is set in a world exactly like ours except that people have not yet evolved the ability to lie. Everyone tells the truth.

The authors use this premise to push these conclusions:

1) Since there is no lying, there is no religion. This obviously implies that all religion is a lie.

2) Since there is no lying, people are impolite and hurtful to each other; they say whatever is in their mind, and this is usually remarkably spiteful and uncharitable. In fact, the authors are implying that a logical consequence of being unable to lie is that they are even incapable of keeping themselves from speaking when they are asked something, and even when they are not asked something they have to say what is in their minds. Evidently, the authors are arguing that lying can be morally justified, and that a world without lies is morally impoverished. But this is a non sequitur. Our Lord never lied and yet he is the summit of charity.

3) The main character (played by co-author, Ricky Gervais) evolves the ability to lie. First, he does what you'd expect; he tries to use this 'superpower' to take advantage of people. After being only partially successful, he he uses his newfound ability to lie to comfort his dying mother by telling her that there is a heaven and that she will be happy after death. People overhear him and take him face value, all of which escalates into him creating his own religion--which is, not surprisingly, a mockery of classical monotheism (Judaism and Christianity, in particular).

4) Gervais mocks both Moses and Jesus in imitating them in ridiculous ways: Moses, by presenting everyone else with the ten principles of his religion, which he wrote on the bottom of a couple of Dominoe's Pizza boxes; and Jesus by degenerating into a bum-like depression stage in which he (purposely) looks like Jesus.

5) His (caricature) version of monotheism leads everyone else to ask very honest questions, most of which are implicitly presented by the authors as objections to monotheism. Gervais answers them in ridiculous ways, implying that traditional monotheism is ridiculous.

More importantly, the people in the movie question the morality of the "Man in the Sky" (i.e., God), who not only gives them all good things, but also all bad things: the Man in the Sky gives each person three chances to do something bad, after which they go to the bad place; if they do less than three bad things, they go to the good place. This leads many to blasphemy ("F*** the Man in the Sky!" they shout)--and this is left unresolved in the movie.

I used to like Gervais, especially for his hilarious performance in Ghost Town, but The Invention of Lying has completely undone all my interest in this guy's movies.